If you want a hint of what might be on the horizon at Apple, look to Google – or at least look to its Project Tango experimental 3D depth-sensing smartphone. Tango got a teardown just the other day, and later on iFixit determined that one of its key components comes from what is now an Apple subsidiary (via 9to5Google), thanks to a deal that wrapped up last November.
PrimeSense, which is the company Apple acquired, is responsible for the 3D imaging system-on-a-chip contained within the Tango developer hardware, which is responsible for processing the data gathered by its four cameras and turning that into a 3D map of its surroundings for use by the hardware, system software and developer applications.
iFixit had noted that Tango’s tech worked similarly to early versions of Microsoft’s Kinect sensor for Xbox and Windows, and PrimeSense is actually responsible for having created that tech to begin with. Apple’s uses for PrimeSense aren’t yet known, but some have suggested it could be incorporated into future Apple TV hardware for gesture-based control. The possibility that it might also add Tango-like features to Apple mobile devices is perhaps more tantalizing, however, and this precedent is definitely a promising sign in that direction.